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18 september 1928

Updated: Apr 10, 2022

After a couple of "recent' historic (first flight) events, we now travel 93 years, back in time. It was on this day in aviation that the first crossing of the English channel took place. Juan de la Cierva y Codorníu, 1st Count of la Cierva flew a Cierva C,8 autogiro from Croyden, England to Le Bourget, France.

The Cierva C.8 Autogiro

The first Cierva C.8 was a rebuild of the C.6D gyrocopter, fitted with stub wings and pedal shaped main rotor blades. It was also known as the Avro Type 587. For most of his designs, CIerva used the fuselage of a fixed-wing aircraft (like the

Avro 504N two-seat trainer which was the basis for the C.8L) and modified it by removing the wings and installing rotors.

Juan de la Cierva (1895-1936) was a pilot and aeronautical engineer credited with the design of the first helicopter, called autogiro. He also invented the articulated rotor, which was incorporated in his C.4 prototype. The basis for the C.8 was a older model autogiro the but by Cierva, the Cierva C.6D . Modifications were the addition of stub wings and rotor blades shaped like pedals, this was the first version of the C.8, the C.8R.

More models would follow with a total production run of less than 10 aircraft and one license-built version in France, an overview of C.8 gyrocopters that were built bu de la Cierva; Juan de la Cierva y Codorníu,

  • C.8R, 1 built A C.6D fitted with new wings and rotor blades Powered by a 97-kW (130-hp) Clerget engine.

  • C.8V Two-seat model, powered by a 134-kW (180-hp) Wolseley Viper piston engine.

  • C.8L, 4 built

  • C.8L Mk II, 1 built Fitted with short-span wings, powered by an Armstrong Siddeley Lynx IV radial piston engine. The aircraft took part in the 1928 King's Cup Air Race. Known in the United Kingdom as the Avro Type 617.

  • Weymann-Lepère C.18Version of C.8L Mk II built under license in France.

  • C.8L Mk III, two built this variant was built for the Italian government in 1928.

  • C.8W, 1 built Powered by a 168-kW (225-hp) Wright Whirlwind radial piston engine. This version was built for Harold Frederick Pitcairn. also known as the C.8L Mk IV.

The C.8W in flight

Specifications for the version with the highest number of aircraft built the C.8L Mark II

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1

  • Capacity: 1 plus 50 lb (23 kg)

  • Length: 36 ft (11 m)

  • Wingspan: 23 ft 2 in (7.06 m)

  • Height: 14 ft 9 in (4.50 m)

  • Empty weight: 1,735 lb (787 kg)

  • Gross weight: 2,380 lb (1,080 kg)

  • Fuel capacity: 24 imp gal (29 US gal; 110 l)

  • Powerplant: 1 × Armstrong Siddeley Lynx IV 7-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine, 200 hp (150 kW)

  • Main rotor diameter: 39 ft 8 in (12.09 m)

  • Main rotor area: 1,236 sq ft (114.8 m2)

  • Propellers: 2-bladed wooden fixed pitch propeller


  • Maximum speed: 100 mph (160 km/h, 87 kn)

  • Cruise speed: 85 mph (137 km/h, 74 kn)

  • Minimum control speed: 25 mph (40 km/h, 22 kn)

  • Endurance: 3 hours at cruising speed

  • Rate of climb: 500 ft/min (2.5 m/s)

  • Power/mass: 11.9 lb/hp (7.24 kg/kW)

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